The Old Dock
By Daniel J Towsey
This is A true story of me and my younger brother and childhood adventures of exploration.
I saw and smelled the ocean for the first time when I was twelve years old.
until then I had lived in big concrete cities thousands of miles from the ocean.
There was no swimming holes or pools. So I never learned to swim.
When I was young i was told that ocean water was salty.
I had no idea what that meant. So I made a promise to myself that if I ever get to the ocean I will run right in and take in a big gulp of water.
The first time I saw and heard the majestic sounds of crashing waves was at Lawrecetown beach.
I walked over the crest of the sand dunes and I froze into awe at the spender and wonder of the ocean and this planet.
I just stood there frozen in absolute wonderment and pleasure.
I had found my internal peace. I had become one with the power of nature.
I then ran as fast as I could, I crashed into a wave and immediately took in a huge gulp…
BLAH! YUK! What a huge shock and disapointment to the awe of nature..
I felt sick and got out of the water. My brother asked me what was wrong and I told him what I did and he got a huge laugh that has lasted him his wholelife.
Please understand that I had not grown up with my family. My brother and I knew each other very little.
I had lived in orphanages, group homes, and with foster parents where in all of which I was continually seriously abused.
I had never know nature, freedom open spaces or any other pleasures.
So my visit to Nova Scotia and family was all an adventure.
But I was a very sad and damaged child. I did not fit in anywhere.
My brother had lived a relatively good life and he knew nothing of my life.
But he did not judge me. He took me on many adventures that I will never forget.
He helped me to be a child for the first time in my life.
My brother had an Idea that one night we should return to Lawrencetown beach at night and go skinny dipping.
So we did. The beach is far out of town and no one is supposed to be out on the beach after dark.
So we arrived and it was very dark, with stars in the sky. It was a warm summer night.
The moon was out and we could see by the moons light.
We ran in, it was a long run as the beach is very shallow for quiet a distance out.
It seemed to far out the deeper water. I felt very bashful being completely naked.
I couldn’t wait till we were in deep enough water.
But I could not go to deep as I can not swim.
My brother screams out in horror.
He’s pointing out towards the ever expanding oceans horizon and says. Look the tidal wave is coming in fast.
It looked like a wall of water right across the whole horizon.
It would of went right over my head and I would of surely drowned.
It was very dark..we ran and ran in absolute fright as fast as we could out of the water.
Not once did I think of looking ahead to see if there was anyone walking on the beach.
And to my horror there I was standing there completely naked and a young couple was strolling by on the beach.
I was so shocked and ran on allot further to where our clothes were hidden.
My brother is sitting there with a huge smirk on his face…But said nothing as he realized I knew nothing about the beach and the ocean.
He knew all along that we were in no danger and that the tidal wave would of diminished as it came onto the shallow beach.
I took the whole experience as a wonderful adventure that I would never regret and would never repeat.
My brother was an amazing fisherman. He knew so much about catching fish and nature.
He studied fish all his life.
He took me on amazing adventures of exploration into nature which I had never seen or experienced before.
It was so wonderful being young and going on hikes on old abandoned roads and hidden trails.
Dartmouth where we were has twenty seven lakes in its town.
Most of these lakes had been protected with a buffer of wilderness around them.
I so fell in love with the wonder of nature. The sounds, the smells, the flowers, the fish jumping in the lakes before dark to catch a fly.
The sounds of the fish splashing and echoing across the peaceful quiet lake.
The sounds of the singing birds.
Nothing man made could ever replace my love for natural beauty. Now that I had discovered gods beautiful creation.
My brother taught me how to make a slip proof fisherman’s knot with my fishing line.
And thereafter my new series of adventures began
First time out he took out to a concrete government wharf in Prospect.
We fished all day. We caught nothing. On my brothers last cast he had something.
He couldn’t figure out what it was. And to his amazement and my bewilderment.
He was reeling in his lure and it caught on a lobsters shell.
As long as he kept the line tight the lobster would not fall off.
I am not exaggerating when i tell you this. This was one of those huge lobsters you once in a while see reported on the news..
It was a grandfather lobster… He proudly showed his catch to the locals on his way back.. I never did get to taste it..
I had never eaten lobster before and had no idea what the fuss was about..
I learned so much from him. I learned all about fishing.
I also learned the disgusting part of cleaning them. YUK!
But did fresh fish ever smell and taste good when cooked…
So now i was ready to go on a really amazingly dangerous fishing adventure.
My brother said we had to leave early because we were going ocean fishing on a huge old broken down and abandoned dock and that we could only get outon it when the tide was out.
We lived on the outskirts of town and our bus service was old converted school buses.
So as the sun came up we waited in the cool morning air. All decked out with our fishing tackle and gear.
As usual I had no idea where we were going. I just followed my brother.
We got off the bus. I saw the halifax harbour for the first time.
I looked at the city of Halifax across the huge harbour.
We had a long hike to go on along railway tracks.
Then my brother says look. That’s where we are going.
I was shocked to see that he was pointing at what was left of an old railway dock where the trains would load up huge ships.
It looked like a hurricane destroyed it.
This dock was really long going out into the Halifax harbour.
What really schocked me was that there was mostly old wooden posts sticking out of the water. They were all in different conditions of decay.
There was no dock surface left to speak of. All that remained were horizontal beams here and there. Most were very loose and most could not be stoodon.
But my brother was confident and I trusted him..he edged me on.
So we get to the shore’s edge. There is no dock there to speak of.
He tells me that we can only get out onto the dock beams when the tide is down and the beams are exposed.
So he guides me along. Tells me every careful step to take.
If I had let fear take control of me I would of surely died.
It was the most dangerous adventure I had ever been on in my life.
It took almost an hour and a half to reach the end.
There was deep smelly water all around me.
We had to pick a beam to sit on that was only inches from the deep ocean water.
We were in no mans land.
I realized that no one could ever come out and help us if we got in trouble and that we were way to far from shore for anyone to hear or see us.
My brother told me that we are there for the day and that we have to keep watching the water level as the ocean is breathing up and down with the tides.
We could not leave till dark when the tide was back down.
As most of the beams we jumped on are submerged when the tide is up and that there is no way to get back on shore either.
My brother was so patient with me. He taught me all his secrets.
He told me that the first catch is the most important. As it would be our bate to do our bottom fishing with.
We had two fishing rods each. One with a heavy line for bottom fishing and one for lures.
My brother taught me how alive the ocean is. He taught me to mackerel fish with a true Mackerel jig.
He said that it is really wonderful when the Mackerel come in with the tide. They swam by the thousands and every time they turn together the oceanwater lit up with thousands of shimmer reflections of their scales.
It was so magical to watch the mackerel swim around the old dock.
We always caught some and then bottomed fished with them as bate.
Our bottom fishing wasn’t really at the bottom. The weight was at the bottom but we had three feet of string past it so our bate would be moving aroundfreely in the currents.
My brother told me that schools of cod always followed the Mackerel in.
The cod were huge fat fish with fat soft lips. They swam very slow and dignified.
Bottom fishing was such an amazing thing. You never knew what you would catch.
We caught so many different creatures.
The most puzzling one was the flat fish with eyes only on one side. They were usually big and felt really strange when reeling them in.
We also did everything we could to save our expensive fishing tackle gear. Everything is expensive when your a kid with no income.
Well i got real dislike for bottom fishing when I caught the most grossly ugly and disgusting fish in all the oceans.
As usual I looked down at the end of my line to see what I had caught and my brother caught the disgusted look on my face and loudly warned me to nevertouch this fish as its needles or thorns are poisonous.
That suited me fine because it was such an ugly and scary fish. I had caught a sculpin.
I hated catching sculpin because i always had to cut my line and lose my bait and hook.
Catching cod was always interesting and a prized catch. Cod were heavy to bring in but offered little fight.
You never knew for sure what you were reeling until it was up close as sea water is very dark.
My brother was over farther and sitting on a horizontal beam sitting on the water.
Then I hear my brother scream out I got one its a big one. Catching a big one while sitting on a very narrow slipper wet beam on the edge of the waterwas very risky. As a powerful fish could knock you into the deep water.
Getting out if you fell in could prove impossible as the logs were slimy and slippery.
So he continues to scream I have a big one…
I was watching him fighting with this huge fish..I thought it was a big cod..But cod don’t offer a fight, so I watched to see what he had.
All of a sudden he gets a really strong pull on this line and I could hear his drag going out very fast.
He did not give up..
Then he got the fish close to him..And I was absolutely schocked to see a shark about eight feet long jumping up at my brother.
The shark had been chasing the cod on my brothers line and when my brother was pulling the cod up the shark lunged at it.
My brother saw the shark only inches from his face and I have never seen him so scared in my life.
He almost got knocked into the water. He had a very dangerous climb to do to get off that beam sitting in the water.
Well my brother being a true fisherman… he actually brought in the huge cod and we were shocked when we looked at the cod and it had a huge chunkmissing off its back.
The strong tug my brother got when bringing it in was the shark taking a bite of the cod and trying to swim off with it.
We could clearly see the teeth pattern of the sharks jaw in the hole left on the cod.
My brother climbed up to where I was and it took him a while to get over the shock of seeing a sharks wide open mouth right in front of his face…
We had to stay on the old dock for many more hours until the tide went back out.
I decided that I did not want to carry heavy fish the long way back home..
So I did not bring any home also because I hated the cleaning of huge cod..I hated the slimyness and the stink of the cod liver.
My brother was used too carrying fish home..He always caught many.
We began our long perilous hike back to the shore end of the dock
On our way back when the tide was low my brother showed me the huge ship that had sank long ago along side the dock.
It seems that this old dock had actually been destroyed by the Huge Halifax Explosion that had occurred many years ago when two ships collided in theharbour.
One being a munitions ship that blew up creating the biggest explosion the world had ever seen until the nuclear age.
So now came the risky business of jumping from slippery slimy log to log to get back on shore.
Was that ever dangerous with the waves crashing in.
We got on shore and were exhausted…It was getting dark.
My brother had his smelly fish with him…The fish were getting really smelly because they had been out of the water for a while and it was hot out.
On the way home many people gave my brother dirty looks because they hated the stinky fish..
There was this really pretty young blonde girl and she really took offense to the offensive stink.
So she started on my brother. She was being nasty and my brother had enough of her stinky attitude.
So he really grossed her out. He took a stinky sticky eye out of the cods head and threw it at her..
She was so grossed out that she never said another word and got off the bus..
On we went for the very long ride home… We lived at the end of the line.
We were the only ones on the bus and were sitting at the very back..The roads in Dartmouth are very hilly and the bus was flying so we often were joltedup and down..
Then we came over a steep crest and began heading quickly down a steep hill.
My brother says really quickly that’s our stop..
He pulls the string and the driver going to fast had little time to stop, So he brought the bus to a very hard stop on this very steep decline.
The front of the bus was much lower then the back.
The braking was so violently hard that before my brother had a chance to grab the plastic bag sitting at his feet.
All you could see was dozens of stinky slimy fish sliding all the way down the bus to the front…
We jumped and ran for the exit as soon as we realized what was happening.
Just as the door opened the fish were hitting the front by the drivers feet..
I ran like hell and so did my brother.
On the walk home my brother said..Oh well I didn’t want to clean those smelly fish..They had been out in the heat to long..
And so my child’s summer adventures continued on to the next one…
So now if this sounded like a really stinky fisherman’s tale from the mari-times.
Remember that it was all true…
There’s plenty of old fisherman’s stories in the mari-times.
This story being one..as I am now too old to ever go on another fishing adventure..
By the way..The old dock was soon after filled in with rocks and topsoil..
The magic of the old dock’s adventures is gone for ever..
and so are most of the fish..The cods disappeared after the huge international trawlers scoured the oceans clean..
The huge schools cod and mackerel never came back…
And now I live on with these oldies memories..
I hope you enjoyed going on this adventure with us.
I love my brother …for sharing some childhood adventures with me..
I wish kids today could have the easy going world full of adventures I had..
Its a pity what we’ve all lost…
Being the value of a simpler life…
When we did not have all these totalitarian oppressive dictatorial laws of The New World Order.
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